1. What got you into writing? Learning to write at the age of five probably! I’ve always enjoyed creating stories and characters, and a couple of my school friends still have some of my early attempts to write a book. My first foray into novel writing was when I was about nine. I decided to write an anthology; I didn’t even know what an anthology was, but I liked the word! It was self-illustrated, which was a laugh as I can’t draw for toffee, and it was awful. Undeterred, my ambition to become an author one day lived on, and when my full time job came to an end last year I finally had the time to realise my dream.
2. What route of publishing did you take, (self-publishing/traditional publishing) and why? I chose traditional publishing for my first novel as I felt I needed the guidance of the professionals, but my manuscript was ignored by most publishers. They didn’t even send me a rejection letter, so fifteen months on I guess it’s a ‘no’ from them. Being a bit naïve, I did end up parting with money towards the printing and publishing costs, but I was desperate to get my work out. Book Guild Publishing did a good job, and the result is a beautiful book, but it’s difficult to get it noticed with legions of good new writers all vying for attention. I have learned so much about publishing and book marketing in the last year that my second novel will definitely be self-published. I like to have control!
3. What is a usual writing day like for you? Disorganised, to be honest. Gradually I’m learning to manage my time, but it’s taking a while. I do my best work first thing in the morning, so I usually get up when my partner goes to work at 6 am and write/edit intensively until my eyes can’t tolerate the computer screen any more. In the evening I tend to go over whatever I’ve written, or read through editing I’ve done, at a more relaxed pace.
4. Are you a planner/plotter when it comes to starting a story? I’m a ‘panster’, without a doubt. My characters have a habit of taking over the telling of their story, and have surprised me in the past with their ideas. Only an author would understand that statement; my friends think I’m crazy! Dory’s Avengers was written in three months, and even I didn’t know how it was going to end which was a really exciting way to write. Book Two (as yet unnamed) is taking longer as I’ve got so much more going on writing wise: blogging, editing, marketing Dory’s etc. As I’ve had so long to think about the story, I’ve a fair idea of how I want it to turn out, but there will probably be some surprises along the way.
5. Do you get writers block, if so, how do you overcome it? Touch wood, I have never had writer’s block. In fact I tend to get the opposite: my imagination simply won’t shut up, which is really annoying when I’m trying to sleep.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? The Dory’s Avengers book launch in the Cambridge branch of Waterstones. It was the best night of my life. The Waterstones manager was reluctant at first to let me host my launch in the shop, as obviously they’d never heard of me, but despite the fact they hid me at the back of the third floor I sold 59 copies that night. It was a lovely social event too; my wonderful family and friends turned out in force to support me, and I still get a bit misty eyed when I think about it.
7. Who influences you? I love classics by Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, so my writing can be a little old fashioned sometimes, but I like it that way. Charles Dickens has such a humorous turn of phrase which I hope has influenced me – I feel a bit cheeky comparing myself to such a great author! More recent authors I enjoy are JK Rowling and Simon Kernick, and the American author Dean Koontz has definitely influenced my characterisation. I love the way his readers get to know his characters through dialogue and interactions, and that the characters all have their own distinct personalities.
8. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? The only way to discover your own writing style is to write. It annoys me when authors give out rules for writing; what works for them won’t necessarily work for you. As long as you’ve got basic grammar, a good command of the language and a story to tell, there are no rules. As far as publishing is concerned, and this is something I learned the hard way, really sell your writing in your query letter. Write a gripping synopsis, be specific on your target market and your book’s genre if possible, and add any ideas (such as blogging, getting reviews, networking) that you have for marketing the book yourself. Publishers won’t look twice at a book they don’t think they can sell. If you’re going self-published, make sure you get your manuscript properly edited, proof read and formatted for e-readers. It’s worth paying out for the best cover art you can find, as that will catch the eyes of potential readers. A professionally finished book will sell so much better than one done on the cheap, so it’s all money well spent.
9. Where’s the best place that you’ve ever visited, and why? Or one of your favorite experiences and why? Favourite experience, or one of them, was walking nonstop from London to Brighton earlier this year. 100km in one go. I was pretty nervous beforehand, especially about walking overnight, but I met some lovely people and it was all amazing. When the sun came up after the night stretch of the walk and a group of deer ran across our path it was the most incredible moment. The sense of achievement was immense; most of us were moved to tears walking in to Brighton with people congratulating us and car drivers tooting their horns. I have a lot of favourite places, but being mad on walking in beautiful surroundings the English Lake District tops them all for me. A lot of Dory’s Avengers is set in the Lake District, and the rest is set in another of my favourite places: London.
10. Please can you tell the readers a little bit about your published book, Dory’s Avengers? Dory’s Avengers is set in an alternative UK. Freedom is nothing more than a distant memory as the population is stifled and bullied by the dictatorial Sponsorship Scheme, headed by the malevolent Lord William. Oppressed for so long, the public has become docile, and the Sponsors are complacent in the belief that there is no one who will dare to challenge them. In a forgotten Lake District village, a glimmer of hope appears. Almost imperceptibly at first the fight back begins, eventually leading a band of unlikely heroes from their tranquil world to face a spectacular showdown with the Sponsors against the backdrop of the London Olympic Games. Don’t sleep too easily, Lord William. Dory’s Avengers are coming… If you’d like to connect with Alison: Website –http://www.alisonjack-author.com/ Blog – http://alisonjack-blog.com/ Editing service –http://alisonjack-blog.com/editing/ Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/AlisonJackAuthor Twitter – https://twitter.com/AlisonJack66Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7246491.Alison_Jack Dory’s Avengers purchase links can be found here: http://www.alisonjack-author.com/books/